Marcus Smart the agitator: Relive Celtics guard's most memorable beefs

Marcus Smart the agitator: Relive Celtics guard's most memorable beefs

This Wednesday is Marcus Smart Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Smart throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Spurs-Celtics.


Has Marcus Smart gotten under your skin? Join the club.

The Boston Celtics guard has made a living as a pesky defensive stopper, frustrating opponents with his relentless hustle. He's also not afraid to mix it up when those opponents snap back at him.

Smart's combination of tenacity, fearlessness and a relatively short fuse have resulted in several memorable "beefs" between himself and some of the NBA's biggest stars.

So, to celebrate "Marcus Smart Day" at NBC Sports Boston, we thought it would be fitting to break down the most notable confrontations of Smart's career, which have led to some colorful locker room exchanges.

December 2014: Smart vs. DeMarcus Cousins

Origin of the beef: The Sacramento Kings center sets a hard screen on Smart. The young guard, then a rookie, responds with a hard box-out. Cousins doesn't like it, and tosses Smart to the ground. Chaos ensues.


Fallout from the beef: Cousins gets ejected, while Smart stays in the game to help Boston earn a 22-point win.

Quote(s) of note: Cousins: "I felt he took a cheap shot on the box out."

Smart: "I’m just playing defense. He knows that I’m not going to back down from him."

November 2015: Smart vs. Russell Westbrook

Origin of the beef: Smart scores a career-high 26 points in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. After the game, Westbrook takes umbrage to a reporter suggesting Smart held his own with the All-Star guard:

"I don’t agree with you, but no. He had a good game, you know. Eighty-two games, I do this. Don’t get it twisted."

Fallout from the beef: Unsurprisingly, Smart stood his ground in response to Westbrook's comments:

"You put two guys like that going against each other, obviously you’re going to knock heads."

December 2017: Smart vs. James Harden

Origin of the beef: Smart forces Harden to commit two offensive fouls in the final seconds of the Celtics' game against the Houston Rockets, helping Boston complete an impressive comeback.


Fallout from the beef: Harden complains about the officiating after the game -- "It's just tough. You can't have two officials in a professional game" -- but the NBA's "Last Two-Minute" report confirmed both offensive foul calls were correct.

Quote(s) of note: Harden: "How else am I supposed to get open? Guy has two arms wrapped around my whole body."

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October 2018: Smart vs. J.R. Smith

Origin of the beef: The Cleveland Cavaliers guard gets tangled up with Aron Baynes during the teams' preseason finale and gives him a shove. That doesn't sit well with Smart, who comes flying in to push Smith and escalate the scuffle.


Fallout from the beef: Smart gets ejected in a Celtics loss, then blasts Smith after the game, telling reporters he told the Cavs guard to meet him in "the back." Smart later has to pay $25,000 fine.

Quote(s) of note: Smart: "Ain’t no punk right here. On my mama, may she rest in peace. That s--- dead, so. Whatever happens, happens. J.R. knows where I’m at. Everyone knows where I’m at. It is what it is."

Smith: "Better keep this s--- about basketball."

March 2019: Smart vs. Joel Embiid

Origin of the beef: The Philadelphia 76ers big man gives Smart an elbow to the side, knocking him to the court. So, Smart returns the favor ... with a two-handed shove to Embiid's back. Chaos ensues.


Fallout from the beef: Smart is ejected and later is assessed a $50,000 fine. The Celtics blow a second-half lead and lose 118-115.

Quote(s) of note: Embiid: "Obviously, I was frustrated because it was a cheap shot."

Smart: "I'll do it over again. I'm going to protect myself at all times, especially if I don't feel like I'm being protected out there like everybody else is. If you don't want to clean it up, I'll clean it up myself."

November 2019: Smart vs. Patrick Beverley

Origin of the beef: Channeling his inner Westbrook, the Los Angeles Clippers' resident agitator bristles at the notion that Smart could "out-intense" him following their early-season matchup:

Fallout from the beef: Beverley wins round one over Smart, hitting a clutch 3-pointer to lift the Clippers to a 107-104 win over the Celtics.

Quote(s) of note: Smart: "I’m on another level. When it comes to me, if you had to choose me [or] Pat, I think I’d be getting that nod."

Don't miss Marcus Smart Day and NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Spurs, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics injuries: Kemba Walker (knee) out Sunday vs. Lakers

Celtics injuries: Kemba Walker (knee) out Sunday vs. Lakers

The Boston Celtics will have to take on the Los Angeles Lakers without Kemba Walker on Sunday afternoon.

The C's guard will miss his second straight game due to a sore left knee, the team announced Saturday. Head coach Brad Stevens revealed earlier this week Walker's knee swelled up and had to be drained. Walker also had his knee injected with Synvisc, a pain relief treatment used for knee soreness.

Robert Williams remains ruled out with a left hip bone edema, though there is hope the big man will return to the court after the Celtics wrap up their road trip.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Celtics-Lakers tips off Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. When these two teams last faced off on January 20, the C's cruised to a 139-107 victory.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics' Brad Stevens the rare college-to-the-pros coaching success story

Celtics' Brad Stevens the rare college-to-the-pros coaching success story

LOS ANGELES — No matter what Brad Stevens does from here on out, he'll be remembered as one of the winningest coaches in Boston Celtics history. 

At 309 victories (and counting) after Friday’s 127-117 win over Minnesota, only three men — Red Auerbach (795), Tommy Heinsohn (427) and Doc Rivers (416) — have won more games pacing the Celtics sideline than Stevens. 

Making the milestone even more impressive is that Stevens came directly from the college ranks, where success has been a rarity. 

The most recent college-to-the-pros coach to struggle with the adjustment is Cleveland’s John Beilein. The former Michigan coach stepped down as the Cavs' head coach to assume a yet-to-be-determined job within the franchise. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Figuring out the secret sauce to Stevens’ success isn't easy.

He’ll be the first to tell you that a number of factors have come into play that allowed him to find success where so many of his college-to-the-pros brethren struggled. 

One of the reasons college coaches get opportunities to lead NBA teams is because of the track record of success they build up at the college level. Stevens led the Butler Bulldogs to a national runner-up finish in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011), a remarkable accomplishment for a mid-major program. 

For Stevens, preparing for the worst when it comes to wins and losses, was challenging at first. The lack of success Cleveland (15-40) has experienced this season was a major factor in Beilein’s decision to no longer coach the Cavs. 

“I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected,” Beilein said in a statement. “I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff."

Indeed, Stevens recalls how difficult dealing with all the losing in that first year was for him. 

As a rookie head coach with the Celtics, Stevens’ squad finished 25-57. To put that in perspective, Stevens won more games at Butler in five of his six seasons than he did in Boston as a rookie, and did so in less than half of an 82-game NBA season. 

“That first year was hard,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston. “I remember being miserable because I never lost like that. But that’s part of it. You learn a lot about yourself, so when you get to that second year you feel a lot different.”

Those early struggles did not catch Stevens off-guard.

“Our first year was expected to be really hard,” Stevens said. “It was expected to be hard for a couple years.”

But a series of trades during the 2014-2015 season gave Boston just the jolt of confidence and talent needed to make a late-season charge. That ended with them getting the eighth and final playoff seed, where they swept in the first round by the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Sure, getting swept was disappointing. But that balanced out with the fact that Boston had found a brand of basketball that would serve as the foundation for the team’s future success. 

“We found a team that competed well together,” Stevens said. “We were able in year two to find our way, at least establishing a little bit with that group, how we wanted to play.”

Stevens is quick to credit the Celtics’ front office, ownership and his assistant coaches for providing the kind of support on and off the court, that a college coach making a jump of this magnitude, absolutely has to have. But maybe more than anything, a college coach making the jump to the NBA has to trust that the process of establishing a comfort level and a culture takes more than just one season. 

For Stevens, that’s the great disappointment in how things have played out with Beilein. While there’s a certain element of uncertainty that comes with making the jump to the pros, Beilein did his research in advance. Stevens was among the coaches he spoke with prior to taking the Cavs job. 

Beilein also spoke with Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan, who also made the jump from a successful career in college to the NBA. 

"I talked to Billy the year before at length," Beilein told reporters earlier this season. "For like an hour on the phone. He encouraged me that he really liked (the NBA). He liked the pace of it. He really liked the coaching. He also said, ‘It’s a long season. You gotta be able to stay in there and hang through the tough times and just keep coaching.’ He encouraged me to do it." 

So did Stevens, who felt Beilein’s strength in working with young players, coupled with his innovative style of play, would make him an ideal head coach for a young Cavaliers squad. 

There’s a fairly high amount of trial and error that first year as well. 

“When I first got the job, I’m watching film of the Celtics from the year before and nobody is going to be back. This doesn’t make sense,,”Stevens recalled. 

Shortly before Stevens accepted the job, the Celtics traded away cornerstone players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, leaving Rajon Rondo as the only starter with the team at that time, from the 2008 NBA title squad. 

But with each passing season, Stevens became more comfortable with the NBA. 

“You are in front of the media, in front of the cameras and you have to answer and do that every single day while preparing your team to play their best,” Stevens said. “It’s just a really challenging gig.”

And now in his seventh season, there’s little doubt that Stevens is comfortable with the league, its players and his role in moving Boston closer towards Banner 18.

I asked Stevens if there were one or two tips he had for a college coach who was contemplating a move to the NBA as a head coach. 

“What I always tell the college guys that are interested is, the summers are great,” Stevens said. “The middle of the season is going to throw a bunch of storms at you. That’s part of it. But that’s ... it’s a lot of fun if you keep the right perspective.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App